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What do you think? Norfolk Broads power lines - fight launched for underground cables

PUBLISHED: 09:28 19 November 2012 | UPDATED: 13:11 19 November 2012

Campaigners fear electricity pylons could cut through the Norfolk Broads.

Campaigners fear electricity pylons could cut through the Norfolk Broads.

Campaigners fearing the “destruction” of Norfolk’s tranquil Broads by power lines serving offshore windfarms last night launched a fight for the cables to be placed underground.

National Grid documents show proposals for a 25-mile power line from Lowestoft to Norwich, marching through the picturesque tourist spot.

The link is needed to connect the giant East Anglia One windfarm, under construction about 43km off the Suffolk coast, to the national network.

If cables are not buried, more than 100 towering pylons near to the River Yare would dominate the skyline for miles around.

Another route being considered is along the Waveney past Beccles to join the electricity grid near Diss.

But campaigners are determined that this will not happen, and have vowed to convince windfarm bosses that underground cables are the best option.

John Fuller, leader of South Norfolk District Council, said: “Norfolk is on the frontline of what’s a massive national infrastructure project and we will have a massive contribution to the national energy supply.

“We can’t protest and say it can’t come.

“We’ve got to work with the National Grid to make sure it’s in the most appropriate form.”

The East Anglia One windfarm aims to generate 7,200MW, which is enough green energy to power more than five million households.

It is being developed by East Anglia Offshore Windfarm Ltd – a joint venture between Scottish Power Renewables and Vattenfall Wind Power.

The company has committed to bringing the energy from its first phase of up to 333 turbines ashore via underground cables to a substation at Bramford near Ipswich, expected to be by April 2016.

Contentious proposals for Broads powerlines - shown in the National Grid’s most recent connections update document - concern the third phase of the project.

And campaigners have stressed the decision must be that underground cables are used.

“We can’t have a knee-jerk reaction against this as they want to work with us,” added Mr Fuller. “There’s two years before a decision can be made, and we want to use the next six months to really shape this and tell East Anglia Offshore what we think is acceptable and also practicable - which means burying the cables.

“If we can make the case for it to go underground there’s a fighting chance it will happen.”

He said the council has approached National Grid, and is in the process of organising a public meeting.

And he suggested underground cables in Norfolk may be less costly than in other parts of the country, as the ground is “very flat” and most of the route is sparsely populated.

Guy McGregor, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for transport and a member of the Broads authority, said the idea of pylons through the Broads may sound “far-fetched” but a similar scheme was given permission in Scotland.

In 2010 a power line got the green light to be routed through Cairngorm National Park, despite huge opposition from residents.

Hilary Franzen, of the Broads Authority, added that pylons would ruin the natural beauty of the area.

“The Broads is renowned for its special qualities and it is being promoted as Britain’s magical water land,” she explained. “These huge pylons marching across the Broads would effectively destroy that image and could have an impact on the tourist industry.”

Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney, said plans have been on the horizon for some time and will require careful consideration, with the need for energy balanced against protecting the landscape.

“There will need to be a very full consultation as we’ve got some very sensitive landscapes that are part and parcel of East Anglia,” he added.

National Grid confirmed it is investigating new power lines in Norfolk and Suffolk, but stressed no decisions have been taken yet.

Spokesman Raymond Miller said: “National Grid has been asked to provide a connection from East Anglia Offshore Wind to the national grid.

“It’s very early days and no decisions have been made on where it will go.

“We do not have any connection points as yet, as we are only just starting to look into various routes.

“We always try to be sensitive to environmental considerations, especially around any activity near AONB and national parks.

“Once our technical studies are complete we will have a clearer idea of the most suitable options.

“We will then share them with the public sometime in summer 2013.”

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